Down the Fairway: CRAGA enables amateurs to play top courses
Golf is a diverse game with many levels of challenges, both physical and mental.
One of its most cherished rewards is the opportunity to play on scenic courses with unique holes.
That’s why the Capital Region Amateur Golf Association is reaching out to the average player to join its membership and play some of the Capital Region’s finest layouts.
CRAGA is supervised by the Northeastern New York PGA. To join CRAGA, just check out the NENYPGA’s website (neny.pga.com). Membership fee is $25.
Most CRAGA events have both gross and net divisions. In order to participate in the net division of any event, a player must have a GHIN Handicap Index. Competitors can earn gift certificates, redeemable at the host facility, following the completion of play.
For CRAGA Classic events and the CRAGA Stroke Play Championship, competitors will play from the black tee markers. Play for the CRAGA Amateur Tour events will be from the middle set of tees.
“We just wanted to create a better playing opportunity for the amateur public,” said NENYPGA tournament director Doug Evans, who runs the CRAGA events.
“This is a great opportunity to play some of our finest courses, like Saratoga National, The Edison Club and McGregor Links Country Club,” he said. “We give the amateurs a chance to play these fine courses under tournament conditions.”
The CRAGA Tour opener, set for last Monday at Saratoga National, was postponed until the fall because of a lack of entries. “It was probably too early in the season,” said Evans.
Other CRAGA Tour events include Monday at Wiltwyck Golf Club (gross division only), May 22 at Albany CC (gross and handicap division), June 4 at McGregor Links CC (gross division only), June 12 at a site to be determined (gross and handicap division), June 19 at The Edison Club (gross and handicap division), Aug. 9-10, Capital Region Stroke Play Championship at Wolferts Roost CC (gross division only) and Sept. 11 at site to be determined (gross and handicap division).
WOLCOTT BACK HOME
Rolling Hills at Antlers Country Club head pro Rick Wolcott is back home this week after a week’s stay at Albany Medical Center following a major car accident near General Electric on Route 890.
Wolcott was hit by a driver going the wrong way, and he suffered broken bones in his left ankle.
“I was in excruciating pain when it first happened. I thought I was going to die,” said Wolcott. “I don’t remember much, but I do remember there was a policeman following that driver, and he was waving his arms, trying to get everyone to pull off the road and get out of the way. I was behind a truck and another car, and I couldn’t get out of the way in time. He hit me broadside.”
Wolcott, the former head pro at Mohawk Golf Club, was able to squeeze himself past the broken glass on his seat and out of the car through the passenger side before he realized how much pain he was feeling in his foot. He had emergency surgery at Ellis Hospital to relieve the pressure in the ankle before being transferred to Albany Medical Center.
Doctors have told him that they are hopeful that he will be able to resume his playing and teaching career, but he’ll be out of action for this season. He still needs to have more surgery.
Our thoughts are with him as he recuperates.
PASSING THE BATON
Wolferts Roost Country Club, designed by noted golf architecht A.W. Tillinghast, is one of the oldest private clubs in the Capital Region, and its former superintendent, Bill Stevens, was one of the most respected men in his field.
After 42 years of service, Stevens retired in the offseason, and he will be replaced by Aaron Madison, who grew up in Saratoga Springs and has an extensive background in course management for both private clubs and high-profile public courses, including the Bethpage State Park Black Course, site of the U.S. Open Championship in 2009.
Madison graduated with degrees in plant science and turfgrass management from SUNY-Cobleskill. He’s worked previously at The Edison Club, Ballston Spa Country Club, and Glen Oaks Club in Old Westbury. He was also a consultant for the Northport American Legion Veterans Affair Hospital nine-hole public facility.
Madison’s grandfather was superintendent of Battenkill Country Club for 20 years, and his brother currently oversees the course at The Edison Club.
The U.S. Golf Association has received a record total of 9,860 entries for the 2013 U.S. Open, scheduled for June 13-16 at Merion Golf Club in Ardmore, Pa.
Among that group are 52 players, including 11 past champions, who are currently fully exempt into the field.
Local qualifying, which will be held at 111 sites across the country, will take place between May 3-16. Our local qualifier will be held May 8 at Albany Country Club. To be eligible, a player must have a USGA handicap index not exceeding 1.4, or be a professional.
The top local qualifiers advance to 36-hole sectional qualifying on June 3 at 11 sites in the U.S. from New York to California.
Webb Simpson is the defending champion. Ten other former champions are fully exempt: Angel Cabrera (2007), Michael Campell (2005), Ernie Els (1994, 1997), Jim Furyk (2003), Lucas Glover (2009), Retief Goosen (2001, 2004), Graeme McDowell (2010), Rory McIlroy (2006) and Tiger Woods (2000, 2002 and 2008).
u The Stadium Classic will be held Saturday and Sunday at Stadium Golf Club. The opening round will be a two-person scramble, and the final round will be a best-ball of partners event. Entry fee is $300 per team. There will be open and senior divisions. Top prize in each division will be $1,100, based on 68 teams.
u The Eastern New York Golf Association’s second event of the season will be held Monday at Ballston Spa Country Club.
u Local club pros from the Northeastern New York PGA will compete in the Pro Classic No. 1 at Delhi College Golf Course on Monday.
u The Town of Niskayuna driving range, located in Blatnick Park on River Road, is now open for the season. Operating hours, weather permitting, are Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, call the driving range at 428-7652, or Lori Peretti at 386-4526.
u The Darcie Trapasso Tennis Camp is sponsoring its second annual Puttin’ For Kids, Ronald McDonald House golf fundraiser July 22 at Albany Country Club. All proceeds will go to the renovation of their new house on South Lake Avenue in Albany. Last year, the event raised $15,000. There will be a 12:30 p.m. shotgun start for the four-person scramble. Entry fee is $600 per foursome and includes golf, locker room facilities, cart, driving range, gift bag, barbecue lunch, beverages on course, raffles, silent auction and dinner. Marisa Jacques, sports director of YNN, will be the emcee. Call 210-4170 or visit firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
u Van Patten Golf Course will host the 23rd annual ALS Memorial Open Golf Tournament June 26. All benefits will support the ALS Regional Center at St. Peter’s Hospital. Last year’s tournament raised more than $124,000. Among the exclusive raffles are a limited number of tickets, to be sold for $100 each or three for $250, for a trip for two at the Pebble Beach Resorts to participate in the Lexus Champions for Charity National Championship. There is also a raffle to win $1,000 in Southwest Airlines gift cards. For more information, contact William Scott Daly at 377-2236, or Stephen W. Michaels at 857-1934.
u Joe Merendo’s Swing Fore Kids program has donated $500 to purchase golf equipment for the school golf teams at Amsterdam, Gloversville, Broadalbin-Perth, Johnstown, Fort Plain, Fonda-Fultonville and Northville. Also receiving $500 will be the Wishful Thinking program at Bacon Recreation Center.
u The seventh annual Airway Meadows Golf Club Four-Player Scramble will be held May 11. Registration will be at 7 a.m., followed by an 8 a.m. shotgun start. Call Peter Riggi at 695-4577 for more information.
u Start making your plans for the fourth annual Jack Scaccia Sr. Memorial Golf Tournament, which will be held Aug. 12 at Mohawk River Country Club & Chateau. Scaccia was a bowling proprietor in the Capital Region for more than 40 years and was also an avid golfer who was a member of Pinehaven Country Club. The entry fee will be $125 and includes lunch and dinner. Entry blanks are available at Boulevard Bowl, Alpha Lanes and Town ’N Country Lanes. You can also call 393-5013 for more information.
u The Edison Club will host the 17th annual Friends of Union Athletics Golf Classic May 20. Entry fee is $550 per foursome and includes golf, cart, driving range, gifts, lunch, barbecue dinner and on-course competitions. Entry deadline is May 10. There will be a noon shotgun start.
Andy Cook collected the first hole-in-one of the season at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course. He used a 7-hybrid on the 150-yard 17th hole while playing in the GE Lab league.
Mike Van Buren posted his second career hole-in-one on the ninth hole at Pinehaven Country Club.
Daryn Bradt used a pitching wedge for a hole-in-one on the 80-yard 11th hole at Whispering Pines Golf Course.
Joe Laurenzo eagled the 16th hole while competing in the Mohawk Valley Golf League at Schenectady Municipal Golf Course.
John Albanese eagled the par-5 18th hole at Stadium Golf Club.